Une Cousteau dans le golfe du Saint-Laurent

Le Journal de Montreal

La petite-fille du légendaire explorateur français Jacques Yves Cousteau suit les traces de son grand-père dans le golfe du Saint-Laurent dans le but de protéger le fleuve.

En octobre, Ottawa a interdit la pêche utilisant des engins de fond dans deux secteurs totalisants près de 3000 km2 dans le golfe.

Cette décision découle directement de l’expédition qu’a menée Alexandra Cousteau avec une équipe de scientifiques de Pêches et Océans Canada en août dernier. Ils ont effectué l’exploration visuelle la plus détaillée jamais faite dans le golfe.

« Personne ne savait ce qu’on allait trouver », souffle la jeune femme.



Comme elle, son célèbre grand-père a parcouru les mers du monde entier entre 1950 et 1990. Caméra au poing, le commandant Cousteau s’était donné pour mission de protéger les océans en éblouissant le public.

« On aime ce qui nous a émerveillés, et on protège ce que l’on aime », a-t-il souvent déclaré.

Dans le golfe, sa petite-fille a découvert des habitats foisonnants de vie, des coraux d’eau froide, des éponges multicolores, des anémones et des espèces autrefois en difficulté qui font actuellement un retour prometteur.

Espoir pour la pêche

Robert Rangeley, le directeur scientifique de l’organisation Oceana qui était du voyage, explique avoir documenté la présence de dizaines de milliers de capelans, un petit poisson de fourrage à la base de la chaîne alimentaire, de milliers de sébastes juvéniles et d’un grand nombre de crabes des neiges.

Le scientifique souligne qu’il s’agit d’une bonne nouvelle pour les pêcheurs.

Mais pour maintenir cette abondance, il faut absolument protéger les secteurs qui permettent aux êtres vivants de se reproduire et de résister aux changements climatiques, insiste Alexandra Cousteau.

« Protéger certains secteurs rend les espèces plus résilientes », indique-t-elle. Elle explique que les aires protégées ne doivent pas être perçues comme des nuisances à la pêche, mais au contraire comme des garanties d’avenir pour les pêcheurs.

    Op-Ed: Keep our oceans fishy; defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act

    Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed

    By Alexandra Cousteau 

    This week, Orlando will welcome attendees from all over the world to the annual Diving Equipment and Marketing Association show. I get excited any time people in the diving community gather to share their love of the world they get to experience underwater. It’s gratifying to see my grandfather’s legacy play out in such a tangible way.

    But the location and timing of this year’s DEMA conference are especially serendipitous. Florida is a special place for divers — and this year, we have thousands of leaders in the dive industry returning to an area represented by two lawmakers who are in key positions to help protect the abundance and diversity that we know and love.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee; and Congressman Daniel Webster is the vice chair of the House oceans subcommittee. These two lawmakers can act as gatekeepers to any new legislation that aims to alter laws that currently conserve our marine resources. And strong protection is urgently needed.

    The diversity and abundance divers today enjoy in U.S. waters are thanks in part to laws that have protected our ocean resources for decades — laws that are now under threat in this Congress. Especially important has been the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. waters.

    Some divers may remember a time when snapper and grouper would have rarely been seen on Florida reefs. But because of conditions in the Magnuson-Stevens Act aimed at rebuilding these populations, today these fish are a common sight. The Magnuson-Stevens Act ensures that many divers’ favorite animals to encounter, like sharks, dolphins and whales, have plenty of fish to eat.

    Few can see firsthand the importance of the Magnuson-Stevens Act like divers. We of course love marine creatures of all shapes, colors and sizes, from the tiniest sea slug to the largest whale. But fish are the glue that connect every corner of the ocean’s web of life. Fish large and small affect the health and balance of every ecosystem — from the white sandy beaches born of a parrot fish’s digestion, to the ebb and flow of predator and prey: Herring populations boom, followed by a surge of tuna devouring the bounty, which in turn decline after the herring are depleted. The cycle continues, but its continuation is far from guaranteed.

    The law has been working, and we have been enjoying its results, but attempts to gut the Magnuson-Stevens Act are underway. The most pressing threat comes in the form of H.R. 200 — a bill that would gut the protections the U.S. has enacted and strengthened over the years. Not only would the bill allow for loopholes to overfish, but it also attacks other bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The bill also undermines marine sanctuaries that allow ocean animals to safely reproduce and rebuild their populations.

    We’re on the verge of reversing decades of progress, opening the doors to overfishing that will have repercussions throughout marine ecosystems, but we don’t have to go down this road. Divers should be the loudest and fiercest champions for protecting our precious resources, and we should make sure these Florida lawmakers hear our voices. Especially important are the leaders gathered this week at DEMA — businessmen, gear distributors, equipment manufacturers — these voices hold particular weight, as they understand better than most the economic value of a healthy ocean.

    I urge every member of the dive industry who is visiting this state to call Webster’s and Nelson’s offices. I urge every Floridian reading this who relies on the tourism dollars that divers bring to this great state to call Webster’s and Nelson’s offices. I urge every Floridian who likes to eat seafood, who likes to fish, who loves sea turtles, who works in the hospitality industry — anyone who benefits from an abundant and diverse ocean — to contact Webster’s and Nelson’s offices and tell them to commit to being advocates for our cherished marine resources. Tell them to oppose H.R. 200.

    More bills like this will come. But we can demand that our representatives stop this bill, and any others like it in the future. Let’s protect what we love. Let’s keep the Magnuson-Stevens Act strong, and our oceans full of fish. As divers, we know what’s at stake.

    Explorer Alexandra Cousteau speaks at Legacy Parks luncheon

    USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee

    Alexandra Cousteau said she never had to make a decision to follow in her famous grandfather’s foot steps.

    “It never really was a question,” she said. “It is kind of what we always did.”

    Cousteau was the featured speaker at the Legacy Parks Foundation’s 11th annual Legacy Luncheon on Friday under a big white tent at the Seven Islands State Birding Park.

    Cousteau, the granddaughter of famed nautical adventurer and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau and daughter of Philippe Cousteau, travels the globe, much as they did, to promote stewardship of the oceans and other waterways.

    She says she has been doing this since her grandfather pushed her into the ocean at age 7 on her first scuba diving adventure.

    “I saw this school of silver fish all around me and I felt like I was in the middle of fireworks,” she said of that day. “I realized there was this whole new world to explore. It was a revolution at how I looked at the world and what I would inspire to do and how I found myself in this family business.”

    Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, left, takes a selfie with Alexandra Cousteau, center, and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero at the Legacy Parks' annual luncheon at the Seven Islands State Birding Park on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Alexandra Cousteau, award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer and global water advocate, was the featured speaker at the event. (Photo: J. Miles Cary / Special to the News Sentinel)

    Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, left, takes a selfie with Alexandra Cousteau, center, and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero at the Legacy Parks' annual luncheon at the Seven Islands State Birding Park on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Alexandra Cousteau, award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer and global water advocate, was the featured speaker at the event. (Photo: J. Miles Cary / Special to the News Sentinel)

    She explained that her grandfather discovered in his journeys that the ocean life was being altered for the worse by pollution and other problems, and dedicated himself to fighting to protect it, starting the Cousteau Society.

    “As I grew older traveling with my grandfather, I started seeing the beautiful places that I had known as a child were also disappearing,” she said. “I realized I didn’t want to be the third generation of my family who would continue to chronicle the loss of those places.”

    So, she, too, has made it her life’s work.

    She is a senior adviser with Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. She is on the advisory council for the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank that provides science-based thought leadership.

    Alexandra Cousteau, award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer and global water advocate, was the featured speaker at Legacy Parks' annual luncheon at the Seven Islands State Birding Park on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. (Photo: J. Miles Cary / Special to the News Sentinel)

    As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and filmmaker, she continues to document issues that are destroying the world’s bodies of water.

    She now has children of her own — a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son — and there is every indication that the Cousteau legacy of ocean conservation will continue.

    “They are ocean lovers,” she said. “My daughter considers herself an explorer and an ocean saver.”

    Big event, big year

    More than 1,000 people attended the event Friday, including Tennessee House Speaker and gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell, state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.

    Legacy Foundation Executive Director Carol Evans took the occasion to make several announcements, including the acquisition of the 3-acre McBee Ferry Landing property on the Holston River. The land, which will become a county park, will include access to the river as part of Legacy’s Head of the Tennessee Initiative, an effort to provide more access to both the Holston and French Broad river, which connect to form the Tennessee.

    Carol Evans, executive director of the Legacy Parks Foundation speaks about how the foundation is procuring a four-acre stretch along the Holston River off Old Strawberry Plains Pike for a Knox County park on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

    The property is off Andrew Johnson Highway on Old Strawberry Plains Pike.

    “We are thrilled to create more public access to our East Tennessee waterways, and are looking forward to the community making great use of this amazing riverfront property and beautiful stretch of river,” Evans said.

    In other developments:

    • Easements for two new trails on Department of Energy land in Oak Ridge have been secured.
    • The foundation is working with several entities in Blount County to move forward on the construction of a greenway that will eventually connect Knoxville and Maryville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “It got a significant boost last month with the Blount Partnership declared that effort to be an economic development initiative for their organization,” Evans said.
    • The ribbon will be cut later this month on the first playground in the region to encourage physical activity for middle school children. The Play Forest is at South-Doyle Middle School and Baker Creek Preserve.

    Canada’s fisheries department and Alexandra Cousteau team up to explore the Gulf of St. Lawrence

    Global News

    A first of its kind expedition in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence captured images, creatures and information never before observed by human eyes.

    A joint venture between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Oceana Canada, an independent charity that advocates for the conservation of oceans, the expedition used a remote-controlled submersible to plumb the Gulf’s inky depths.

    The Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Sciences (ROPOS), a $6-million submersible, allowed the crew to stream a high-definition feed that allowed the world to explore with them.

    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence has never been explored with the type of technology we have,” Oceana’s science director, Robert Rangeley, said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week.

    Alexandra Cousteau, Senior Oceana Advisor and granddaughter of legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, took part in the expedition.

    “We were able to get first-of-a-kind footage of the seafloor in the (Gulf of St. Lawrence),” she told Global News on Thursday.

    “It allowed us to be able to collect sponges and soft corals. And with the high-definition cameras on this incredible robot we were able to capture the interaction between species and the environment.”

    It’s those kinds of opportunities — to discover the undiscovered — that led to the expedition.

    Mireille Chiasson, a Senior Oceans Biologist with the DFO, says that planning of the mission took nearly a year and a half.

    “We knew that Oceana had opened a chapter in Canada, they were looking to have an expedition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and they reached out to Fisheries and Oceans to get the scientists to go on board with them,” she said.

    As part of the partnership, the DFO was able to secure the use of the CCGS Martha L. Black, a light icebreaker to help transport the expedition.

    Protecting the Gulf

    Now that the expedition is over and the many samples collected and cataloged, Cousteau says now is the time when analysis begins.

    Scientists from the DFO and Oceana will examine and investigate every frame of film and every piece of coral gathered over the next several months.

    “We’ll be able to take that into consideration and issue recommendations for places that are in need of conservation. We’ll also provide policy makers with what they need to make decisions,” she said.”

    “It’s exciting and it’s only just begun.”

    The Gulf of St.Lawrence has been at the forefront of the discussion on conservation in North America due to the death of at least 10 North Atlantic Right Whales in its waters.

    While not explicitly looking at whales during their expedition, Cousteau said it’s a great illustration of the need for more oceanographic study.

    “We know more about the surface of the moon than our own oceans,” she said. “I think, just generally speaking, that the more we know about our oceans, the more we can understand what happens.”

    Alexandra Cousteau joins expedition streaming unseen depths of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

    The Toronto Sun

    CHETICAMP, N.S. — A scientific expedition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is revealing never-before seen images of odd and valuable marine life.

    Federal researchers have joined with the non-profit group Oceana Canada to use a $6-million robotic submersible, known as ROPOS, to explore the seabed, and live-stream sometimes spectacular high-definition video to the internet.

    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence has never been explored with the type of technology we have,” Oceana’s science director, Robert Rangeley, said in an interview Monday from Cheticamp, N.S., where the two-ship expedition was poised to begin another week of exploring the Gulf’s depths.

    “There’s hardly been any camera work at all.”

    Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous French filmmaker and marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau, is part of the expedition and an adviser to Oceana, an international ocean conservation group based in Washington, D.C.

    “It’s such a thrill to be part of something that has never been done before,” Alexandra Cousteau said in a dockside interview.

    The recent deaths of at least 10 endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf has focused international attention on the importance of the vast area.

    Cousteau said previous studies have typically relied on the use of underwater sleds that were dragged along the ocean floor and later hoisted to the surface for inspection by scientists.

    “What they got at the surface was broken,” she said. “They had no idea how the species were interacting. We’ve been able to see how that whole neighbourhood works.”

    In particular, Cousteau said the high-tech submersible — ROPOS stands for Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Sciences — has recorded video images of large numbers of juvenile redfish seeking shelter amongst fields of sea pens, a type of bottom-dwelling coral that looks like old-fashioned pens made from fanciful feathers.

    Just some of the cool species spotted so far during the Gulf of St. Lawrence expedition, sponges, redfish and sea anemones! pic.twitter.com/I5nwi4gmz9

    — Oceana Canada (@OceanaCAN) August 27, 2017

    Redfish, which are also known as ocean perch, are a commercially valuable species that have been on the decline for years. But the video suggests the species may be making a comeback, as some Gulf fishermen have already suggested.

    “If this is where the juveniles are finding shelter, then we need to protect that,” said Cousteau. “I think that’s something everybody can agree on.”

    In the command centre during our last dive, we are now on our way to the Cape Breton Trough! #GulfofStLawrenceLive https://t.co/juSVeCYELxpic.twitter.com/L3MfdLMQZo

    — Oceana Canada (@OceanaCAN) August 27, 2017

    Rangeley, a research scientist who used to work with World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Fisheries Department, said he and his colleagues have also spotted porbeagle sharks, right whales, cod, colourful sponges and large schools of sand lance, a herring-like fish that is a key source of food for whales and seabirds.

    “We saw massive schools of them for the longest time,” the marine biologist said. “We could hardly see through the lens of the ROPOS … It’s a pretty lively place, the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”

    #Science in action! We are collecting samples, like this #seapen, to better understand the diverse ocean ecosystem in the #GulfofStLawrencepic.twitter.com/HvHKlVWlqT

    — Oceana Canada (@OceanaCAN) August 28, 2017

    At one point, the cameras captured the moment when a northern gannet, a large seabird known for its torpedo-like fishing skills, plunged into the water to feast on sand lance.

    “We’re also measuring stuff,” Rangeley said, adding that expedition scientists are taking samples for genetic and chemical analysis. “We’re not just taking pretty pictures. It’s a full-spectrum science effort.”

    A flatfish camouflaged along the seafloor in the Laurentian Channel of the #GulfofStLawrence, we’re livestreaming at https://t.co/juSVeCYELxpic.twitter.com/9YP0h2hH3v

    — Oceana Canada (@OceanaCAN) August 27, 2017

    The research is important because Canada has the world’s longest coastline. Spread across three oceans, it covers more than 243,00 kilometres. The federal government has committed to conserving 10 per cent of the country’s marine areas by 2020.

    The expedition started last week off the coast of Quebec’s Anticosti Island, and then moved to the American Bank, a submarine cliff lying off the eastern tip of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. More exploration is expected this week off the west coast of Cape Breton.

    Oceana, established two years ago in Canada, was part of a similar expedition in the Gulf of Maine in June.

    The ROPOS submersible, which can dive to 5,000 metres, is being carried aboard the CCGS Martha L. Black, a Canadian Coast Guard light icebreaker. The submersible is owned by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility, based in North Saanich, B.C.

    Philippines oceans in trouble: Overfishing, pollution, climate change ail our seas

    WHEN ocean explorer and filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau visited the Philippines in September last year, she told journalists the world’s oceans are in trouble. The Philippines, Cousteau said, is no exception.

    She could not have described the situation any better.

    The country’s coastal and marine ecosystems are degraded, and efforts to protect and conserve the country’s coastal marine ecosystems remain wanting.

    The decades of neglect that led to ocean degradation in the Philippines, in fact, have already taken its toll on the fishery sector.

    The dwindling fish catch of municipal fishermen—from an average of 10 kilos per day to just 5 kilos per day and/or lower—over the past decades pose a serious challenge.

    Small fishermen confided that, because of the depleted fish stocks, they are forced to resort to destructive and unsustainable fishing practices—from blasting, or use of cyanide; use of trawl and unprescribed fish nets; and encroachment in marine-protected areas (MPAs), fish sanctuaries and spawning grounds, which are supposed to be “no-take” zones to cover for the high cost of production and make ends meet.

    Ecosystem services

    THE open ocean provides a wide range of goods and services essential to human development and survival.

    The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) listed five important benefits of maintaining a healthy ocean. These include food, particularly fishery; transportation or shipping; oxygen production; carbon sequestration or sink; and temperature and weather control.

    Aside from the obvious ecosystem services that oceans provide, such as food and transportation, the phytoplankton in the ocean are estimated to produce over half the oxygen that many needs.

    The ocean waters also have the capacity to absorb vast amounts of greenhouse gas that help buffer global warming.

    The surface layer of the ocean absorbs over half the heat reaching the Earth from the sun.

    “By distributing this heat around the world, ocean currents—which flow for thousands of kilometres, both at the surface and far below—are extremely important in determining the climate of the world’s continents,” the WWF said.

    Economic potential

    THE Philippines is composed of 7,641 islands and islets, with approximately266,000 sq km of coastal waters and bay areas, excluding the Philippine Rise, the country’s newest territory 250 km off Aurora Province.

    The country is at the apex of the Coral Triangle, declared by scientists as “the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world”.

    The Coral Triangle, according to a broad scientific consensus, represents a global epicenter of marine life and abundance and diversity.

    “Spanning only 1.6 percent of the planet’s oceans, the Coral Triangle region is home to the highest coral diversity in the world with 600 corals, or 76 percent, of the world’s known coral species. It contains the highest reef-fish diversity on the planet with 2,500, or 37 percent, of the world’s reef fish species concentrated in the area,” the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security web site said. “It is also a spawning and nursery ground for six species of threatened marine turtles, endangered fish and cetaceans, such as tuna and blue whales.”

    The Philippines, along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste, known collectively as the CT6 (Coral Triangle 6), agreed to a adopt a 10-year regional plan of action to safeguard the region’s coastal and marine biological resources.

    Coastal, marine biodiversity

    The Philippine seas are home to at least five species of marine turtles, 28 marine mammals, 168 cartilaginous fishes, 648 species of mollusks, 1,755 reef-associated fishes, 1,062 seaweeds and 820 species of algae.

    The Philippine reefs contribute approximately P1.35 billion to the national economy per year.

    Many areas in the country continue to rake profit from ecotourism, showcasing its coastal and marine biodiversity, its white-sand beaches, lagoons and world-class diving spots, which attract both local and foreign tourists.

    Having one of the richest coral and reef-fish diversity in the world puts the Philippines in a better
    economic position than other countries within Southeast Asia. The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2015 to 2028 placed the country’s ecosystem and biodiversity value at P2.3 trillion. The PBSAP added ecosystem services provided through fishery production is estimated to be worth P111 billion; coral reef, 62.1 billion; and mangrove, 7.4 billion.

    Environmental degradation

    MUCH of the country’s coastal and marine resources are already degraded. In Luzon the historic Manila Bayis dying because of pollution. Tons of garbage are washed along the shore.

    The degradation of coastal and marine areas, such as in Manila Bay, was a result of a number of factors. The massive land reclamation or dump-and-fill along Manila Bay destroyed much of its coastal ecosystem—including mangroves, sea grass and corals—decades ago.

    The indiscriminate dumping of garbage in Metro Manilahas already taken its toll, as uncollected garbage finds their way into waterways, eventually ending up either in Laguna de Bay or Manila Bay. The coast of Manila Bay is known to be notoriously dirty and contaminated withtoxic pollutants.

    Water quality in Manila Bay’s shoreline did not improve much since the Supreme Court issued in 2008 a continuing mandamus ordering concerned government agencies to clean up and restore Manila Bay to its pristine state.

    The latest laboratory test along the stretch of Manila Bay revealed high levels of coliform and faecal coliform. The fecal coliform is particularly worrisome, as they may carry pathogenic bacteria in fishes and can be harmful to humans when consumed, said Salvador Batellar of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

    The current coliform level of the water in Manila Bay’s shoreline runs over a million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters. This is way above the acceptable level of 100 MPN of coliform per 100 ml. This level allows authorities to declare fish caught in a particular water body safe for human consumption.


    GLORIA Estenzo-Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, an ocean conservation advocacy group, said she is saddened “to see only small fish underwater and some corals and sea grass smothered by sediments from land”.

    Humans are getting more and faster from our ocean than it can regenerate, Estenzo-Ramos added.

    “Overfishing, pollution, coastal developments and climate change are real threats to the health of the ocean and, of course, our survival,” she said.  An environmental lawyer, Ramos added the collapse of the country’s marine species and their interconnected habitats, like corals, sea grass and mangroves, is of our own doing.

    “We should wake up, and take urgent action to restore its vitality and rebuild fisheries—Now!” she said. In a 2013 report, titled “Oceans in the Balance: Philippines in Focus”, Greenpeace noted that the Philippine seas are under threat—corals are dying, mangrove areas are being destroyed, sea-grass beds are being suffocated by erosion and vital populations of fish and other marine species are declining.

    In fact, the report said the overall picture of the country’s oceans depicted the Philippines as a nation in crisis because of the various threats to its marine and coastal ecosystems.

    On top of the massive damage to its coastal and marine ecosystem, the Philippine seas is becoming more and more polluted because of indiscriminate dumping of thrash into the ocean.

    Achievements of female explorers overshadowed by men

    Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter Alexandra Cousteau says her grandmother Simone made his exploration possible

    “Women’s achievements in science, discovery and exploration have been overshadowed by men’s,” says environmental activist Alexandra Cousteau, the granddaughter of legendary explorer, Jacques Cousteau

    “There are a lot of women explorers out there who haven’t been recognised for the incredible things that they have contributed to how we understand our world,” she told Kathy Sheridan in the latest episode of The Women’s Podcast.

    One of those women was her own grandmother, Simone Cousteau, who received the French maritime medal of honour for sailing more miles than any other woman in history.

    “She was an extraordinary woman. My grandfather wouldn’t have been able to do everything that he did if she hadn’t been by his side, especially in the beginning. She sold her jewels to be able to finance the first expeditions of The Calypso,” she said.

    An environmental activist and advocate on the conservation of water, Cousteau has spent her life at sea and was taught how to scuba-dive when she was just four years old by her famous grandfather who invented the pursuit.

    She went on her first expedition at sea as a baby, on an amphibious plane with her father the explorer Philippe Cousteau. “Some people love to go camping with their children… this is what we did,” she said.

    You can catch Alexandra Cousteau at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin on Sunday, April 23rd - the day after Earth Day – when she will speak about her remarkable life and work to date and of course her pioneering family.

    Alexandra Cousteau On Protecting Our Oceans

    "When you destroy the environment, you destroy your economy"


    Earth Day, which takes place this month, raises awareness about our environment and how we can protect it.

    We were joined today by environmentalist Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau. She spoke to us about the problem of overfishing and the importance of protecting the world's oceans. She also talked about how many of the ecosystems she has seen over the years have disappeared, and what we can do to help.

    Alexandra will be speaking at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin on 23 April to mark Earth Day. For more information, and to buy tickets, see bordgaisenergytheatre.ie.

    30 Minutes with Alexandra Cousteau


    On her first visit to the Philippines to advocate for sustainable fishing for OCEANA, the filmmaker and conservationist talked to GRID about being a child of the ocean and the passion that runs in her veins.

    On Growing Up In The Ocean

    I went on my first (sea) expedition when I was only 3 months old. (My daughter beat me by the way. She went on her first expedition when she was only 2 months old.) My grandfather taught me how to dive when I was seven, and I’d visit him in Monaco and we would visit the aquarium. We would play games where he was the steward king of this underwater universe and we would look at all our subjects and talk about how we had to take care of them. He was a magical person.

    On Her Grandfather, Legendary Explorer and Filmmaker Jacques Cousteau

    I was born in the late 70s and grew up in the 80s and back then, we were talking about Antarctica. I remember they wanted to go exploit Antarctica, and my grandfather was leading an initiative around the world and gathering petitions on paper (because this wasn’t the Internet age yet). He got millions of signatures on paper to try to help save Antarctica. Back then, they didn’t have the same issues that we have today: Climate change wasn’t really on the public agenda yet. That’s a real game changer as we know it. The oceans weren’t really collapsing yet. Having learned to dive more than 30 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to see the changes, firsthand, in our oceans.

    These are dramatic changes, not just little changes. I’ve seen places that I knew as a child disappear. For me, this is particularly heartbreaking because… as a child of the ocean, a child of the water, someone who learned to swim before they could even walk and someone who had the opportunity to really absorb it all, I realize that there was amazing abundance when my grandfather was my age. But when my 5-year-old daughter reaches my age, there could be very little left for her generation. Because the window of opportunity to make the kind of changes that could bring back a diverse and abundant ocean is closing.

    On Taking Her Daughter Snorkeling For The First Time In The Philippines

    Coming here to the Philippines is really quite special for me, especially because I’ll be going to Palawan where my grandfather made a film decades ago. So it will be interesting for me to see what it’s like and see the biodiversity I’ve heard about. And I will be able to take my daughter snorkeling for the first time in Palawan, which will be extremely special—both for her and for me as well. To be able to share a place like that with my child is extraordinarily meaningful because it is a part of her history and legacy with the oceans, and a love for the oceans, a contribution to the oceans, and I want her to experience it the way my grandfather experienced it, the way my father experienced it, and the way I experienced it as a child. Places like El Nido are like museums; they remind us what the oceans used to be like, but they now exist in just a handful of places. When we think about the ocean floor, we think it’s just dirt, right? Yet there is so much life there. It’s a living sea floor. So before we just… smash it up, we should really understand what we are sacrificing, as well as the opportunities for conservation. Because that’s what it is: an opportunity, not a sacrifice. That’s what brings me here. That’s why I have so much passion for this work and this place. Because what exists here is unique and this is the legacy of Filipinos. It is also the legacy of all the rest of us.

    That’s why my daughter is snorkeling in the oceans for the first time here— and not in France or in the United States. There’s something extraordinary here [in the Philippines] that brings us here. And it is also part of her legacy as French girl that she can learn about and experience and remember forever, here in the Philippines.

    On Traveling Around The World To Save The Oceans

    I never felt pressured to do this; it’s more a way of life than a career choice. It was never really a career choice, it was never a strategy, there was no resume. I just grew up with all this and I love the lifestyle of traveling. My favorite moments are when I step off a plane in a country that I had never been to before and I can see the faces and I can hear the voices and smell the air and hear the sounds of this new place, and I know there’s an adventure that awaits. I don’t know what’s gonna happen—but I know it’s gonna be great. I love being in expeditions, being with my crew and telling stories together, and having a common purpose. These are all the things that matter to me to me in terms of what I do. I like working on things that I believe in.

    On The Future Of Our Oceans

    In the thousands of years we’ve inhabited this planet, we’ve only figured out what was below the surface of the oceans about 70 years ago. And we just explored less than 5% of our oceans. We are very young in our understanding of our oceans. I think, in spite of the fact that my grandfather did have such a big influence on making people aware of the oceans and exploring what was under the surface… I think today he would be more alarmed than when he was taking the Bill of Rights for Future Generations in the 1990s. He would be terribly alarmed. Because we have not managed to stop the momentum of loss, in spite of all efforts. But today, we have things that we didn’t have before. As the risks grow and the threats grow, we also have new tools to try to affect change at the level that we need to affect it—if we want to protect the places that we love and the way of life that we aspireto have. We cannot continue the way we are now if we expect our children to have any kind of quality of life. Oceana has been working with this idea that we can save the oceans all over the world, that if we are able to stop by-catch overfishing and expand marine protected areas in 2 dozen countries around the world that control almost 90% of fishing in the world, that’s something we can do, right? It’s not 120 countries. If we hit 30, then we can really do that, and the Philippines is one of those countries that could really change the abundance of our oceans. I think it’s important to tell people that the oceans start in our own backyards, they start at our dinner table, they start in our supermarkets, they start in the gutters—that’s where the oceans begin.

    "So ein Erbe ist auch eine ungeheure Bürde"


    Sie war drei, als ihr Vater bei einem Flugzeugabsturz ums Leben kam. Doch der Tradition der Familie blieb auch sie verpflichtet. Ein Gespräch mit Alexandra Cousteau, Enkelin des legendären Forschers.

    by Mariam Schaghaghi

    NZZ am Sonntag: Frau Cousteau, wie kommt es, dass Jacques-Yves Cousteaus Enkelin ausgerechnet in Berlin lebt statt irgendwo am Meer?

    Alexandra Cousteau: Nun, der viel- leicht wichtigste Grund sitzt gerade in seinem Büro (lacht). Mein Mann Fritz Neumeyer ist Berliner und Architekt. Wir haben einige Jahre in Washington gelebt, doch dann hat er einige gute Aufträge in Berlin bekommen, den Umbau eines kleinen Schlosses und einer Villa. Und seit Donald Trump zum Präsidenten gewählt wurde, wissen wir, dass wir nicht zurück in die USA wollen.

    Es ist eine Klischeevorstellung. Aber wurde Ihnen mit dem Namen Cousteau wenn nicht die Liebe zum Meer, so doch der Forschergeist nicht förmlich in die Wiege gelegt?

    Das bestimmt. Mit sechs Monaten ging’s auf die erste Expedition, auf die Osterinseln. Ich war in Chile, Tunesien, Uganda und Ägypten mit dabei. Meine Eltern sind mit uns die ganze Zeit zwischen L.A. und Paris gependelt, wo die Büros meines Grossvaters waren. Ausserhalb der Expeditionen dienten diese als unser Zuhause.


    Ihr Vater Philippe war der engste Ver- traute von Jacques Cousteau, aber er war auch sein ärgster Kritiker. Sind Sie auf dem Schiff aufgewachsen, der legendären «Calypso»?

    Nein, meinen Grossvater habe ich erst nach dem Tod meines Vaters begleitet. Mein Vater Philippe hatte ein Kleinflugzeug, mit dem er auf Expeditionen unterwegs war. Ich war erst dreieinhalb Jahre alt, als er starb, und gerade auf einer Expedition meines Grossvaters. Aber dieser Lebensstil ist mir schon früh eingepflanzt worden. Die Kameraderie, die Teamarbeit und das Erkunden neuer Orte, das gehört alles schon sehr zu meiner familiären Sozialisation.

    Wie stark ist Ihr Bezug zu der Wasserwelt?

    Sie ist schon sehr ausgeprägt. Aber das stimmt mich auch traurig. Vieles, was ich als Kind kennengelernt habe, gibt es heute nicht mehr. Die Ozeane sind nicht mehr die, mit denen ich aufgewachsen bin: Das Mittelmeer ist inzwischen zu einer einzigen Todeszone geworden. Wir haben darin so ziemlich alles Lebendige zerstört. Zu Zeiten meines Grossvaters gab es dort noch richtig grosse Fische, jetzt schwimmen da nur noch kleine Exemplare herum.

    Für Jacques Cousteau war das Tauchen eine Passion, er hat 1946 die Aqualunge entwickelt, die das Tauchen verein- fachte. «Zu tauchen ist wie zu fliegen», sagte er. Und für Sie? Teilen Sie auch diese Familienpassion?

    Natürlich, wenn du tauchst, fühlst du dich schwerelos. Mein Grossvater selbst hat mir mit sieben das Tauchen beigebracht. Aber wenn ich ein absterbendes Riff sehe, erfüllt mich in erster Linie Trauer. Ist das Riff gesund, erfährt man eine völlig andere, faszinierende Welt. Ich tauche nicht mehr oft, weil ich es leid bin, mir tote Orte unter Wasser anzuschauen. Im Film geht es meinem Vater ähnlich, als er eine Höhle aufsucht, die er von früher her kannte und die dann leer war. Diese Enttäuschung und Trauer habe ich selbst oft erfahren.

    Ihr Grossvater hat uns in seinen über 100 Filmen die Welt unter Wasser gezeigt. Das Vermächtnis Ihres Vaters ist es, dass diese Welt geschützt werden muss. Sehen Sie es nun als Ihre Aufgabe an, die Umwelt vor noch grösseren Schäden zu bewahren, oder ist es schon zu spät dafür?

    Nein, ich glaube schon an die Möglichkeit, dass die Ozeane noch zu retten sind. Die Chance besteht nach wie vor, doch es wird immer schwieriger, gerade bei der wachsenden Population – wir sind heute 7,5 Milliarden Menschen. Unter dem steigenden Bedarf der Menschen leiden alle natürlichen Ressourcen unseres Planeten. Das Holz für die Ikea-Möbel, die vielen Lebensmittel, der Müll, den wir täglich produzieren. Indem ich das in Geschichten verpacke, versu- che ich, den Leuten klarzumachen, was hier gerade passiert und welche Art von Wandel uns bevorsteht. Noch könnten wir Einfluss nehmen – mit erneuerbaren Energien, nachhaltigen Nahrungsmitteln, kürzeren Lieferwegen, weniger Kleidung. Wenn wir aber weitermachen wie bisher, werden wir all das verlieren, was wir an diesem Planeten so lieben.

    Ab wann haben Sie realisiert, dass Sie als Umweltaktivistin und Forscherin leben möchten?

    Einen solchen bestimmten Moment gab’s gar nicht. Es fühlt sich so an, als tue ich das, was ich schon immer gemacht habe: unterwegs sein, kritisch beobachten, wie wir mit der Natur umgehen, und eingreifen – mit Aufklärung und Umdenken. Dieses Leben macht mich glücklich.

    Sie haben ein fünf- und ein einjähriges Kind. Sind Sie, seit Sie Mutter sind, noch stärker engagiert?

    Natürlich. Jetzt denke ich 70 oder 80 Jahre in die Zukunft, nicht nur die 30 oder 40. Die Dringlichkeit hat sich für mich verstärkt. Das macht mir schon Angst, das gebe ich zu.

    Jérôme Salle zeigt in der Filmbiografie «Jacques», dass Philippe eigentlich der- jenige war, der seinen Vater erst zum Meeresschützer machte. Jacques hatte sich verrannt, in Spektakeln, in Film- deals, in Finanzproblemen. Was mei- nen Sie: War Ihr Vater der bessere Cousteau?

    Mein Vater war studierter Ökologe. Grossvater war 1910 geboren, da exis- tierte diese Wissenschaft noch nicht einmal im Ansatz. Im Jahr seiner Geburt lebte gerade einmal eine Mil- liarde Menschen auf der Welt. Dann ist die Weltbevölkerung explodiert und mit ihr die überproportionale Nutzung der natürlichen Ressourcen. Meinem Grossvater waren diese lau- fenden Wandlungsprozesse durchaus präsent. Aber mein Vater ist das Thema sehr viel leidenschaftlicher und konsequenter angegangen.

    Haben sich die beiden sehr oft gestritten?

    Ich war zu klein, um mich zu erin- nern. Es gab wohl Konflikte. Philippe wollte sein eigener Herr sein und eigene Projekte durchführen. Es war auch nicht leicht, der Sohn von Jacques Cousteau zu sein! Mein Gross- vater war ein aussergewöhnlicher Mann, doch auch er hatte seine Fehler – seine vielen Geliebten, seine Eitel- keit...

    Ihr Vater kam 1979 bei einem Flugzeug- absturz ums Leben, er wurde 38. Ihre Mutter erwartete gerade das zweite Kind. Wie ging Jacques Cousteau damals mit dieser Tragödie um?

    Mein Grossvater hat Philippes Tod nie wirklich überwunden. Mein Grossvater und mein Vater waren Seelenverwandte, Jacques hat ihn über alles geliebt. Mich hat die Trauer meines Grossvaters oft richtig fertiggemacht. Er hat immer wieder gesagt, dass er an meines Vaters Stelle hätte sterben sollen. Mit acht Jahren habe ich nicht verstanden, wie er so etwas sagen kann, und habe geweint, weil ich den Gedanken nicht ertrug, ihn auch noch zu verlieren.

    Wie sah Ihre persönliche Beziehung zu Ihrem Grossvater aus? Wurde er Ihr Vaterersatz?

    Er war keine typische Vaterfigur, weil er andauernd beschäftigt war, nicht nur auf der «Calypso». Er versuchte, Geld aufzutreiben, traf sich mit vielen Leuten, flog von einer Stadt zur nächsten, schloss Filmverträge ab. Wir haben ihn nur ein paar Mal im Jahr gesehen. Dann tranken wir Kakao bei «Angelina’s» in der Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Ich erinnere mich an viele schöne Momente mit ihm: wie er mit mir in Paris um die Wette gelaufen ist, wie ich ihn in der Cousteau Society oder im Schneideraum besucht habe, wo er die einzelnen Zelluloidstreifen begutachtete und mit roten Stiften für den Schnitt markierte.

    Der Film «Jacques» erzählt auch die Dramen hinter den Kulissen und intime Familiendetails. Wie empfinden Sie es, dabei zuzuschauen?

    Ich bin glücklich, dass auch die Geschichte meines Vaters erzählt wird und dass ein so phantastischer Schauspieler wie Pierre Niney ihn verkörpert. Die Schauspielerin Audrey Tautou ist meiner Grossmutter zum Verwechseln ähnlich. Es stimmt, mein Grossvater gerät mehr und mehr in Vergessenheit, da ist es gut, dass ein Film ihn wieder in Erinnerung bringt. Es macht gar nichts, wenn auch seine Fehler erwähnt werden. Ja, er war seiner Frau untreu. Aber ich weiss, dass er meine Grossmutter ehrlich geliebt hat. Ich erinnere mich noch daran, wie sehr er getrauert hat, als sie 1990 starb. Sie hat ihm vieles ermöglicht, sie waren ebenbürtige Partner, auch wenn sie später sehr unglücklich war und trank. Er war oft fort, aber er hat ihr auch das Leben gegeben, von dem sie immer träumte. Sie war die einzige Frau, die so oft auf einem Schiff mit einer wissenschaftlichen Mission mitgefahren ist. Sie hätte ihr Leben gegen kein anderes eingetauscht. Sie war die Königin an Bord, wurde von allen geliebt – die Crew nannte sie «La Bergère», die Hüterin.

    Und wie gefällt Ihnen Lambert Wilson als «JYC»?

    Lambert Wilson hat Jacques bestens getroffen. Er hat seine Persönlichkeit verstanden. Wilson war es ein Bedürfnis, diese Geschichte zu erzählen. Es ging weder ihm noch den anderen ums Gelddas Budget dieses Films war nicht hoch. Daher war es allen Schauspielern auch wichtig, was unsere Familie von ihrer Arbeit hält. Wir haben die Arbeit des Teams sieben Jahre lang unterstützt. Die Geschichte wird mit Herz und Leidenschaft erzählt.

    Macht es Ihnen wirklich nichts aus, wenn in Filmen und Dokumentationen über Ihre Familie an der Legende gekratzt wird?

    Nein. Ich habe schon eine Menge über meinen Grossvater und über meinen Vater zu hören bekommen, sehr vieles, was ich gar nicht alles so genau wissen wollte. Doch bei allem, was mein Grossvater getan hat, liebe ich ihn nach wie vor, weil er eine aus- sergewöhnliche Persönlichkeit war. Jeder hat Fehler, niemand ist perfekt.

    Waren Sie an der Entwicklung von «Jacques» direkt beteiligt?

    Nein. Aber meine Mutter war das durchaus. Sie stand bei den Dreharbeiten als Beraterin zur Verfügung und hat während der gesamten Produktion Feedback gegeben. Sie hat auch Fotos und Briefe meines Vaters beigesteuert.

    Nach dem Tod seiner Frau hat Jacques Cousteau ein zweites Mal geheiratet, bevor er 1997 starb. Seine zweite Frau besitzt die Rechte an seinen Filmen – sorgt das für Konflikte?

    Darüber möchte ich mich nicht äussern. Nur so viel: Es gibt nach wie vor Konflikte zwischen uns.

    Und was ist eigentlich mit dem legendä- ren Forschungsschiff «Calypso», auf dem Ihre Grosseltern fast 30 Jahre zu Hause waren? Wurde es inzwischen renoviert?

    Das liegt leider nicht in meiner Verantwortung, sonst wäre das schon längst passiert. Aber all das lässt sich im Internet nachlesen . . . Ich habe ohnehin nicht den Wunsch, diesen Teil des Erbes meines Grossvaters fortzuführen.

    Wie meinen Sie das?

    Mit zwanzig, als ich gerade aus dem College kam, habe ich mich dem Erbe meines Grossvaters und meines Vaters noch sehr stark verpflichtet gefühlt. Doch so ein Erbe ist auch eine ungeheure Bürde, weil du damit Schwierigkeiten hast, eine eigene Identität zu entwickeln. Letztlich lebst du in einer anderen Welt als mein Vater und mein Grossvater damals. Heute befinden wir uns, was den Umweltschutz betrifft, in einer völlig anderen Situation, auch wegen des Klimawandels. Da sind ganz andere Massnahmen für die Zukunft vonnöten. Das fing mir an bewusst zu werden, als ich eigene Expeditionen unternahm, selbst Filme drehte, zum National Geographic Explorer wurde oder am World Economic Forum in Davos andere Aktivisten traf. Früher tat ich es für meinen Vater und meinen Grossvater, also die Vergangenheit – jetzt tue ich es für die Zukunft, für meine und alle anderen Kinder, für die es gilt, unsere Welt in der Zukunft vor einer grossen Umweltkatastrophe zu bewahren. Es geht nicht mehr um ihr Vermächtnis, sondern um das Vermächtnis einer ganzen Generation.

    Ist Ihr Engagement ehrenamtlich – oder ein echter Beruf ? Müssen Sie damit Geld verdienen?

    Ja. Ich habe ja nichts geerbt, also muss ich für meinen Unterhalt arbeiten, wie jeder (lacht). Mein Grossvater war kein wohlhabender Mann. Ruhm bedeutet nicht automatisch Reichtum. Allein die «Calypso» zu unterhalten, kostete Unsummen. Er stand immer kurz vor der Pleite.

    Sie sind fast so viel unterwegs wie Ihr Grossvater. Wo überall sind Sie als Aktivistin zurzeit besonders stark involviert?

    Ich arbeite für diverse Projekte der National Geographic Society. Ich habe den Film mit Leonardo DiCaprio, «Before the Flood», und auch «Years of Living Dangerously» unterstützt. Und seit sechs Jahren arbeite ich aus- serdem als Beraterin für «Oceana», die weltweit grösste Nonprofit-Organisa- tion, die sich für den Schutz der Meere einsetzt. Im September war ich für die Organisation auf den Philippinen, wo ich mit der Vizepräsidentin und der Umweltministerin – alles Frauen! – persönlich sprechen konnte. Ich ver- mittle auf politischer Ebene, hole Spenden ein und bereite Expeditio- nen auf.

    Was ist Ihre Vision, Ihr Zukunfts- wunsch?

    Ich arbeite gerade an einem Doku- mentarfilm zu dem sehr ambitionier- ten Projekt «Save the Oceans, Feed the World!». Darin zeige ich auf, wie wir die Welt tatsächlich verändern könn- ten. Das Projekt entspringt keiner idealistischen Phantasie, sondern stützt sich auf fundierte Daten und Untersuchungen, die unter anderem ergeben haben, dass 90 Prozent der Überfischung von weniger als 30 Nationen verursacht werden. Wenn wir es schaffen, 27 von denen zu bewegen, ihre Fischerei anders aufzu- ziehen, können wir die Meeresvielfalt retten – und bis zu 1 Milliarde Men- schen pro Tag Nahrung verschaffen. Dazu müssten die Länder neue Tech- nologien einsetzen, die ein Signal geben, sobald eine Überfischung stattfindet. Man kann das Problem mit dem Beifang lösen – Fische, die nicht weiter verwertet werden, werden tot ins Meer geschmissen, was zusätzlich zu einer Abnahme der Artenvielfalt führt. Es muss auch darauf gedrängt werden, mehr Schutzzonen einzurich- ten. Momentan werfen wir noch sel- ber Geld ein, so dass wir den Film wahrscheinlich erst in zwei Jahren fertig haben werden.

    Hilft Ihr Name, auf politischer Ebene Dinge voranzutreiben?

    Auf jeden Fall! Viele Politiker und Entscheidungsträger weltweit stam- men aus der Zeit meines Grossvaters. Der Name öffnet mir selbstverständlich Türen, die sonst verschlossen blieben.

    Auf welche Ihrer Leistungen sind Sie besonders stolz?

    Jetzt, wo ich Kinder habe, muss ich auf eine andere Weise an meine Arbeit herangehen. Ich freue mich besonders auf die bevorstehende Arbeit an «Save the Oceans and Feed the World!». Wenn es uns gelingen sollte, möglichst viele Nationen dazu zu bewe- gen, ihre Fischereipolitik entspre- chend unseren Vorschlägen zu verän- dern, dann ist ein grosser Schritt zum Schutz der Meere getan. Das würde gleichzeitig bedeuten, dass wir dadurch bis zu 1 Milliarde Menschen pro Tag Nahrung verschaffen.

    Sie drehen auch einen Dokumentarfilm für dieses Projekt.

    Ja, wir haben letzten September mit den Dreharbeiten angefangen. Es gibt viele Länder, in denen ich Aufnahmen machen möchte. Der Film wird aus meiner Sicht erzählt, doch auch meine Tochter Clementine wird ein Teil des Films werden. Sie wird nicht direkt zu sehen sein, aber es geht darum, dass die leer gefisch- ten Meere, die wir jetzt haben und die sich in einem ganz anderen Zustand befinden als zur Zeit meines Vaters und meines Grossvaters, sich in der Zukunft für unsere Kinder wieder erholen werden. Und diese Weiche gilt es jetzt zu stellen.

    End the US Shark-Fin Trade


    A bipartisan bill before Congress is poised to stop the sale of shark fins in the U.S. 

    I grew up in and around the sea, surrounded by pioneers of ocean exploration and conservation. If there's one thing I learned from my experiences with my father, Philippe Cousteau, and my grandfather, Jacques­Yves Cousteau, it's the interconnectedness of ocean life. Every creature has its place, and one group of creatures in particular plays a vital role in ocean ecosystems while also having a special place in divers' hearts: sharks.

    The joy of seeing these magnificent predators in their natural habitat, on their terms, is difficult to describe to someone who has not been lucky enough to experience such a moment. A shark's graceful power can make you feel at once vulnerable and deeply privileged to be able to witness the beauty of this animal in its habitat. Seeing a shark while diving engenders a feeling of being a guest in its home.

    This is why divers, more than anyone, should be outraged at the degrading, disgusting treatment of sharks. To satisfy a demand for shark­fin soup, sharks are hauled onto boats, where their fins are hacked off, and then their mutilated bodies are tossed back into the ocean, where they drown, bleed to death or are even eaten alive by other fish.

    The conservation organization Oceana reports that up to 73 million sharks are killed in the shark-fin trade every year. This is a trade that needs to be stopped. To that end, Oceana has worked with lawmakers in congress to introduce the bipartisan Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (S. 3095/H.R. 5584), with cosponsors Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) and Ed Royce (R-CA). This bill would make the buying and selling of shark fins illegal in the United States. I urge legislators and citizens to do everything they can to ensure this bill passes.

    The fin trade is one of the greatest threats to sharks worldwide. The act of shark finning is currently illegal in U.S. waters, and even though 11 states have passed shark­fin trade bans, fins are still being bought and sold in the United States. Once a fin is removed, it is impossible to know whether it came from a shark that was legally harvested for its meat or from a shark that was finned at sea.

    A recent report on shark finning revealed large discrepancies in shark­fin trade data, with other countries reporting sending the U.S. more shark­fin products than the U.S. recorded importing. It is nearly impossible to know the true origin of any fin that enters or leaves the United States. Of the shark­fin products entering the U.S., more than 85 percent come from countries with no finning regulations in place. A 2006 study found that the 14 most common species involved in the Hong Kong fin trade (the historic leader in the global fin trade) were all near­threatened, vulnerable or endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. So with no good way to know where a fin comes from, those entering the U.S. could be the product of a practice that is banned in U.S. waters, and worse, they may be the fins of sharks that are at risk of extinction.

    An all­out trade ban would solve this problem. There would be no need to try to figure out whether a fin was hacked off a live, endangered shark, because no fins could be sold in the United States. We're already employing this strategy for elephant ivory and rhino horns, and it's time sharks received the same protection. Polls show that 8 in 10 Americans support a nationwide trade ban, and dozens of organizations such as Sierra Club and Sea Shepherd have declared support for the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. But for this bill to pass it needs all the support it can get, and I can't think of a better standard bearer for this issue than the diving community.

    As you all know, an ocean without sharks is an ocean out of balance. Sharks provide some of the most memorable moments in a diver's career, but they also provide balance that is necessary for every population in any given ecosystem to thrive — from sea grasses to corals to fish. The abundance and biodiversity that we divers live for is dependent upon a healthy ocean, and a healthy ocean needs sharks — and sharks need you.

    Please call and tell your members of congress to support this bill. I urge you to make this a central issue for the diving community. Watch the video at the link in the sidebar, and share this appeal with your friends and family.

    Since my grandfather took his first scuba dive a little more than 70 years ago, sharks have been giving divers the ultimate thrill. Unfortunately, unless we act as a community, many of our favorite species may not make it another 70 years. Those moments of awe and wonder will become fewer and farther between. It's time to end the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, and it's time for divers to stand up for a fish that has given us so much.

    Watch the video at youtube.com/watch?v=IFzKH­O9WM0.

    Read Oceana's report at oceana.org/FinBanNow.

    Cousteau Bio Pic Premieres in Berlin, Germany


    Endlich, das Telefon klingelt. Das muss der Vater sein, der immer abends anruft, von seinen fernen Tauch-Expeditionen auf den Meeren überall auf dieser Welt. Alexandra Cousteau ist dreieinhalb Jahre alt, ihr Vater Philippe und ihr Großvater Jacques-Yves Cousteau sind Weltstars. Niemand vor ihnen hat die Unterwasserwelt so farbenprächtig, so spektakulär, so unterhaltsam gefilmt und damit Millionen Zuschauer gefesselt.

    Alexandra nimmt den Telefonhörer ab. "Papa?" Stille. Es ist nicht der vermisste Vater. Sondern jemand, der ihre Mutter verlangt und sagen wird, dass Philippe Cousteau an diesem 28. Juni 1979 bei einem Unfall mit seinem Flugboot gestorben ist.

    37 Jahre später erzählt Alexandra Cousteau in ihrer stuckverzierten Berliner Altbauwohnung vom viel zu frühen Tod ihres Vaters. Aus dem kleinen Kind ist eine zierliche, blonde Frau geworden, elegant gekleidet in einem engen blauen Blazer.

    Rastlos wie einst ihr Vater und Großvater reist Alexandra um die Welt, um gegen Verschmutzung und Überfischung der Meere zu kämpfen. Seit zwei Tagen erst ist sie aus Argentinien zurück und hat endlich Zeit für ihre beiden Kinder. Sie sind fast im gleichen Alter wie Alexandra, als 1979 das Telefon klingelte. 

    Natürlich könne sie sich nicht mehr an den traurigen Anruf erinnern, sagt sie. Aber ihre Mutter habe davon erzählt, und in den vergangenen Wochen wurde sie immer wieder daran erinnert - durch die anrührende Szene aus dem Kinofilm "Jacques - Entdecker der Ozeane", der gerade in den deutschen Kinos angelaufen ist.

    Bereit, sein Leben zu riskieren

    "Es ist hart, den Vater auf der großen Kinoleinwand sterben zu sehen", sagt Alexandra Cousteau. Sie ringt nach einem passenden Begriff für ihre Gefühle und wechselt von der Muttersprache ins Englische, weil ihr nur das Wort "bittersweet" passend vorkommt. "Mein Vater ist nach seinem Tod etwas in Vergessenheit geraten, in der vordigitalen Zeit gibt es nur wenig Spuren von ihm", erklärt sie. "Dabei war er einer der großen Männer seiner Epoche und hat Millionen Taucher inspiriert. Als ich den Film sah, war ich sehr glücklich, aber mit Tränen in den Augen."

    "Jacques" ist keine historische Dokumentation, erzählt aber eine wahre Geschichte, die so viel hergibt, dass sie keiner künstlichen Dramatisierung bedarf. Im Mittelpunkt steht das Leben von Jacques-Yves Cousteau. War er der geniale Tüftler, der mit seiner "Aqua-Lunge" das Tauchen revolutionierte? Oder ein irrer Fantast, überzeugt davon, genetisch veränderte "Fischmenschen" würden bald den Meeresboden besiedeln? War er ein Umweltschutz-Pionier? Oder ein skrupelloser Filmemacher, der für seine oscarprämierten Dokumentationen Tiere quälte, um besonders spektakuläre Aufnahmen zu bekommen?

    Auf jeden Fall war JYC, wie ihn seine Freunde nannten, bereit, sein Leben zu riskieren. Einst träumte er davon, als Marineflieger die Welt zu entdecken - bis ein schwerer Autounfall seine Pläne durchkreuzte. 1936 überschlug sich sein Wagen, Cousteau brach sich zwölf Knochen. Sein linker Arm war derart zertrümmert, dass Ärzte zur Amputation rieten, um einen womöglich tödlichen Wundbrand zu vermeiden. Cousteau wagte alles und gewann: Der Arm verheilte.

    Mit der Fliegerkarriere war es vorbei, doch der 26-Jährige stillte sein Entdeckerbedürfnis auf andere Art. Seit er im Sommer 1936 erstmals mit einer Unterwasserbrille im Mittelmeer tauchte, träumte er von den Tiefen der Meere: "Ich tauchte meinen Kopf unter, und die ganze Zivilisation schwand mit dieser einen Bewegung dahin. Ich war wie in einem Dschungel, der noch nie von all denen erblickt worden war, die sich auf der undurchsichtigen Erdoberfläche bewegten." Es war ein Erweckungserlebnis: Seine Augen hätten sich für "die Wunder des Meeres" geöffnet; er habe sein "altes Leben abgeworfen".

    "Selbst Fisch werden"

    Wieder riskierte Cousteau sein Leben - um "selbst Fisch zu werden". Mit den damals üblichen schweren Tauchhelmen und -anzügen, von außen mit Luft versorgt, erschien ihm das unmöglich. Also experimentierte er, oft leichtsinnig, mit neuen Atemgeräten und verlor mehrmals unter Wasser das Bewusstsein.

    Dann kontaktierte er Emile Gagnan, Experte für industrielle Gasausrüstungen. Gemeinsam entwickelten sie die "Aqua-Lunge" weiter, auf der bis heute das Prinzip des Tauchens basiert: Per Atemregler ließ sich fortan komprimierte Luft aus Flaschen automatisch dem wechselnden Wasserdruck anpassen.

    "Befreit von Schwerkraft und Auftrieb flog ich durch das All", jubilierte Cousteau nach dem ersten Tauchgang. Und später: "Ich bin das Meer, und das Meer ist in mir." Die neue Technik legte das Fundament für seinen Welterfolg: Der Film "Jacques" zeigt, wie er nachts aufgeregt an Bord seines berühmten Forschungsschiffes "Calypso" mit dem Finger über die Meere eines leuchtenden Globus fährt. Und zu seiner Frau Simone sagt: "Stell dir vor, dort unten gibt es eine ganze Welt zu entdecken!"

    Als echter Entdecker wollte Cousteau diese Welt natürlich festhalten. Umtriebig, ehrgeizig, erfindungsreich, hyperaktiv. Seinen ersten Film hatte er 1942 noch mit einer simplen Kamera im wasserdichten Einmachglas gedreht. Nur 14 Jahre später stießen seine Taucher in der oscargekrönten Doku "Die schweigende Welt" mit unter Wasser brennenden Magnesiumfackeln wie tollkühne Eroberer in die Tiefe vor. Sie rasten mit von Cousteau entworfenen Unterwasser-Scootern hinter Fischschwärmen her, flogen über bunte Korallengärten und inspirierten damit später einen James-Bond-Film. Sogar den Haien stellten sie sich, geschützt nur durch einen engen Käfig.

    Mit der "tauchenden Untertasse" in die Tiefe

    Cousteaus Fantasie kannte keine Grenzen: 1964 versenkte er eine Art bewohnbares Aquarium im Roten Meer und lebte mit seinem Sohn Philippe wochenlang unter Wasser - in klimatisierten und beleuchteten Räumen, rauchend und Champagner schlürfend. Mit einem futuristischen U-Boot, der "tauchenden Untertasse", stieß Cousteau in immer größere Tiefen vor.

    Geschickt machte er sich selbst zur Marke: In mehr als 100 Filmen ließ er seine Crew auf der blendend-weiß gestrichenen "Calypso" stets bald weltberühmte rote Wollmützen tragen. Um exorbitant teure Expeditionen zu finanzieren, schloss er auch Verträge mit der Öl-Industrie ab und sondierte den Meeresboden nach möglichen Bohrorten. Dem US-Sender ABC rang er die Rekordsumme von 4,2 Millionen Dollar ab, für die zwölfteilige Fernsehsendung "Die Unterwasserwelt des Jacques Cousteau". Und doch reichte das Geld meist nicht. 

    Die Sucht nach den aufregendsten Bildern machte den schmächtigen Mann mit dem hageren Vogelgesicht bald angreifbar. Meeresbiologen warfen ihn vor, nur die Sensationslust zu bedienen, aber nichts zur Forschung beizutragen.

    In "Die schweigende Welt" von 1956 hängten sich Taucher an Panzer von Riesenschildkröten, während Cousteau aus dem Off über die gehetzten Tiere witzelte. Die "Calypso" verfolgte Pottwale; ein panisches Jungtier verfing sich in der Schiffschraube und verendete. Haie wurden mit Walkadavern angefüttert und wild gemacht, später an Bord der "Calypso" gezogen, von der Mannschaft zu Tode geprügelt. Frühere Crew-Mitglieder behaupten gar, sie hätten massenhaft Delfine getötet, um sie an Haie zu verfüttern.

    "Ein Held mit Fehlern"

    Alexandra Cousteau, engagierte Aktivistin der Meeresschutzorganisation "Oceana", kennt diese Vorwürfe. Manches stimme, manches sei aus Neid erfunden worden. Die Kritik sei aber vor allem eines: ungerecht. 

    "Es ist einfach, aus heutiger Sicht Dinge zu verurteilen, ohne den historischen Kontext zu berücksichtigen. Mein Großvater war in den Fünfzigern der Erste, der solche Filme gedreht hat. Dafür gab es damals noch keine Regeln oder ein Umweltbewusstsein." Für sie ist ihr Großvater deshalb ein "Held mit Fehlern", aber eben ein Held: "Ich kenne nicht persönlich den Cousteau aus den Fünfzigern und Sechzigern. Ich habe nur den Cousteau aus den Achtzigern und Neunzigern erlebt. Und da gab es niemanden, der sich so sehr für die Umwelt eingesetzt hat."

    Dass sich Jacques-Yves Cousteau tatsächlich zum engagierten Umweltaktivisten entwickelte, war womöglich auch der Verdienst von Philippe. Im Kinofilm streiten beide erbittert über die wahre Episode, ob man zu Unterhaltungszwecken Seelöwen an Bord der "Calypso" nehmen dürfe. Das sei Disney, Schwachsinn, Tierquälerei, wettert Philippe, der seinem Vater zudem nie dessen zahlreichen unehelichen Affären verzieh.

    "Sie sind oft heftig aneinandergeraten", sagt Alexandra Cousteau, "und waren doch ein Herz und eine Seele." Am Ende, so sieht sie es, schärfte ihr Vater die Sinne ihres Großvaters für den Umweltschutz. Gemeinsam fuhren die beiden 1975 zu einer Expedition in die Antarktis. 16 Jahre später errang Jacques Cousteau seinen größten Sieg als Umweltaktivist: Er bewegte die Mächtigen der Welt dazu, in einem Moratorium den Schutz der Antarktis für 50 Jahre zu garantieren. Selbst Georg Bush, Freund der Öl-Multis, unterschrieb.

    Alexandra Cousteau hat von ihrem Großvater mit sieben Jahren das Tauchen gelernt. Als Jugendliche war sie mit ihm begeistert wochenlang auf Expeditionen und wird dasselbe mit ihren Kindern tun. Und doch sagt die Enkelin des berühmten Tauch-Pioniers am Ende einen traurigen Satz, zugleich eine Warnung: "Ich tauche nicht mehr gern. Ich bin zu oft an Orte zurückgekehrt, an denen es heute kaum noch einen Fisch zu sehen gibt. Die Meere, die mein Großvater erforscht hat, existieren so nicht mehr."

    Alexandra Speaks at the Inaugural Congreso Economia Verde in Cordoba Argentina


    El Presidente y el gobernador cordobés fueron los principales actores de la jornada inaugural del evento internacional que tiene como uno de los principales objetivos concientizar a la sociedad, a las instituciones y a los gobiernos sobre el tema.

    El presidente Mauricio Macri y el gobernador cordobés, Juan Schiaretti, fueron los principales actores de la jornada inaugural del primer Congreso de Formación de Líderes de América Latina: Economía Verde, Conciencia y Acción, un evento internacional que tiene como uno de los principales objetivos concientizar a la sociedad, a las instituciones y a los gobiernos sobre la importancia del desarrollo sustentable.

    El Congreso -que finalizará este viernes- se lleva a cabo en el Complejo Ferial Córdoba y entre los expositores se destacan cuatro premios Nobel como Shirin Ebadi (primera mujer musulmana en recibir el Nobel de la Paz), Ada Yonath (única mujer viva en recibir un Nobel de Química), Kurt Wurthrich (Premio Nobel de Química) y Mario Molina (pionero en investigación medioambiental).

    En la inauguración, Fabián López, ministro de Aguas, Ambiente y Servicios Públicos de la ciudad de Córdoba, tuvo a su cargo la presentación del congreso, junto con Jorge Brown, CEO de la Fundación Advanced Leadership, y Alejandro Spinello, director de la Fundación Advanced Leadership en Argentina.

    La primera disertación de la jornada estuvo a cargo de Robert Kennedy Jr., activista medioambiental, quien puso énfasis en las políticas sustentables como buenas prácticas de negocios.

    El referente internacional destaco que "La economía verde está generando dinero en el mundo, equiparándose cada vez más con la industria del carbón".

    Además aseguró que "Argentina puede darle energía a todas sus provincias con los vientos de la Patagonia".

    Por su parte, Alexandra Cousteau, reconocida activista medioambiental, incentivó a los oyentes a contemplar los problemas mundiales del agua y la necesidad de proteger este recurso tan valioso.

    "Si no hacemos cambios a gran escala, nuestros océanos van a seguir muriendo. Estoy aquí para invitarlos a crear un mundo mejor para las próximas generaciones", manifestó la nieta del oceanógrafo Jacques Cousteau.

    Por su parte, el premio Nobel de Química, Mario Molina, (pionero en investigación medioambiental) explicó cómo el cambio climático está afectando a todas las áreas de la economía, pero más allá de esto indicó que "el riesgo de incrementar la temperatura global 5 grados sería catastrófico para la humanidad".

    Schiaretti pidió “cuidar el medio ambiente” en el Congreso de Economía Verde

    "Ya no solo hablamos de afectar la economía, sino que sería una falta de ética contra las generaciones futuras y estaríamos rompiendo realmente rompiendo la sustentabilidad" aseguró Molina.

    En su ponencia explicó la necesidad que tienen los estados en aplicar políticas dirigidas a la implementación de energías y economías sustentables.

    En tanto,  y reafirmando su compromiso con el medio ambiente, el cantante popula Axel, habló con Télam Radio sobre el Congreso de Formación de Líderes de América Latina: “Economía Verde, Conciencia y Acción”.

    “El encuentro tuvo la participación de grandes personalidades, es el primero de América Latina y tiene gran relevancia para el país”, enfatizó el músico sobre el Congreso que debate sobre el rumbo ambiental mundial.

    Por último, Axel advirtió sobre las críticas que la sociedad muchas veces le hace a la política, al respecto indicó que deberíamos hacer una introspección sobre nuestro accionar de sustentabilidad, ahorros y cuidados, ya que “la política comienza en casa”.

    Op-Ed: Stand Up For The Sea Floor

    The San Diego Tribune Op Ed

    by Alexandra Cousteau and Ted Danson

    The Pacific Ocean off California is unlike any other place in the world. Its fluorescent sunsets and powerful waves have been the inspiration for pop culture, art, education and conservation. Visitors and locals alike flock to California’s 840 miles of breathtaking coastline. However, just beyond the limits of the naked eye lies an important part of the ocean that many people don’t know about, the seafloor. Remarkably, we know more about the moon orbiting the Earth about 230,000 miles away than we do about the seafloor. 

    While ocean exploration has come a long way in the last several decades, less than 0.5 percent of the world’s ocean has been explored, photographed or filmed. This summer a team of researchers and explorers with Oceana, MARE (Marine Applied Research & Exploration) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration embarked on a scientific expedition to document deep sea life in the Southern California Bight offshore of Los Angeles. The resulting footage and data unveiled a remarkable underwater world unlike any other.

    Alexandra and the Oceana crew on deck with the remote operated vehicle (ROV) that will be deployed to photograph the ocean floor.

    Alexandra and the Oceana crew on deck with the remote operated vehicle (ROV) that will be deployed to photograph the ocean floor.

    Imagine a colorful underwater forest of gold, purple and pink coral colonies comprised of thousands of individual animals. These structures, like sponges, rocky reefs and underwater canyons, are habitat for dozens of fish species — many are sought after in commercial and sport fisheries — and are frequented by octopus, sea stars and crabs. The expedition’s images show shark egg cases hanging on coral branches like decorations, rockfish nestling into cylindrical sponges, eels peering out of rocky reefs and basket stars precariously balancing on sponges shaped like vases. These diverse seafloor structures provide shelter, feeding grounds and breeding areas for countless species of marine life. 

    Without healthy productive seafloor habitats, the oceans wouldn’t be the same. In order to balance a vibrant fishing economy and ocean biodiversity, we must protect the oceans from the seafloor up. 

    The greatest known threat to seafloor habitat is destructive bottom trawl fishing gear. In this industrial fishing practice, heavy equipment that drags along the ocean floor holds open large nets, scooping up not only the targeted commercial fish species, but also nearly everything else in the path of the trawl. Corals, sponges and other living seafloor structures are toppled, crushed or ripped from the seafloor. Growing only millimeters a year, corals and sponges could take hundreds to thousands of years to recover, if ever. Currently, bottom trawling off Southern California only occurs in shallow, nearshore waters, leaving the vast majority of seafloor wilderness pristine. This provides a unique opportunity to protect this exquisite habitat now. 

    A starfish, coral and a green spotted rockfish. (Photo Courtesy of Oceana)

    A starfish, coral and a green spotted rockfish. (Photo Courtesy of Oceana)

    The California coast is an aquatic treasure trove supporting one of the busiest marine highways in the world. Fed by cold nutrient-rich waters, the California Current has been nicknamed the “Blue Serengeti” as it is home to whales, dolphins, fish and sea turtles that migrate up and down the coast, provides nurseries for sharks, hosts rookeries for sea lions and so much more. The brilliance of ocean wildlife that converges here makes it globally significant. A healthy seafloor, in turn, helps this ocean wilderness flourish.

    Federal fishery managers have an opportunity at their meeting in Southern California this month to safeguard these deep sea ecosystems from a future of destruction by bottom trawl gear. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has taken action before to prevent the expansion of destructive bottom trawling. We are asking this management body to extend this precautionary approach to seafloor areas off Southern California, a truly unique gem right off our coast, while maintaining the nearshore fishing grounds where trawling already takes place. 

    While most of the Southern California seafloor has yet to be explored, the places that scientists have visited are vibrant, unspoiled and unlike any other across our water planet. We want new discoveries to be made through a camera lens, not seen for the first time broken and dead in a trawl net. 

    Some of the most known fragile seafloor structures from California to northern Washington were protected in 2006. Research expeditions over the last decade demonstrate the many undersea treasures still being discovered that are risk if we expand bottom trawling over the California seafloor. 

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to discuss the fate of Southern California’s seafloor and accept public comments at its meeting in Garden Grove on Friday.

    We invite Southern Californians to stand up for the deep sea and help save the seafloor. 

    Cousteau is a senior advisor to Oceana, is a part of the National Geographic Emerging Explorers Program, and a filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues who continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. Danson is an award-winning actor, longtime ocean advocate and Oceana board member.

    Alexandra Cousteau on climate change, the oceans and not eating tuna


    Environmentalist Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of famed explorer and documentary filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, is in town Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. speech and Q&A at the University of Texas at Arlington's Maverick Speakers Series. Tickets are still available.

    She's planning to discuss — among other topics — her support for sustainability efforts and the fate of the oceans, which were an important part of her childhood. Her father, Philippe Cousteau, was also part of the family's conservation dynasty.

    She is an adviser to the environmental group Oceana , founder of Blue Legacy International, a 2010 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and frequent speaker on all things water.

    Here's a few thoughts from the 40-year-old Berlin resident on her family, the state of the oceans and the unique attitudes about climate change in the United States.

    On why people who don't live near oceans should care about the oceans:

    Cousteau: "When I look at the impact my grandfather's films had, they inspired people all over the world, who lived on the ocean and who didn't live on the ocean. There are so many ways for people to feel inspired and engaged about the oceans now. They might not be able to go to the ocean every day like people who live on a beach do. But I think that they can care. They can understand that rivers lead to the sea, so if you pollute the rivers, it's going to end up in the seas. We should save the whales, even if you never see one in person. It's still important. Or we shouldn't eat seafood that's on the brink of extinction. Eating a tuna is like eating a panda."

    On how the environmental landscape is different now than in the 1950s and '60s when her grandfather came to prominence:

    Cousteau: "People didn't know what was under the surface of the ocean in the '60s...It was brand new to them. It's hard to imagine that today because we're so used to it. But back then, it was a real novelty. For him [Jacques Cousteau], his most important contribution was creating that awareness and introducing people to what was there. Since my grandfather was born in 1910, we've added 6 billion people to the planet. The issues we're facing today are much more urgent. And our window for addressing them is much smaller. ... Our impact is widespread, from climate change and ocean acidification to deforestation."

    Her view of the ongoing debate about the existence of climate change:

    Cousteau: "Americans are the only nation in the world that doubts it [climate change]. That's kind of weird to me. You don't hear that debate anywhere else [Cousteau got her college degree in the U.S. but now lives in Germany]. Certain stakeholders have very successfully politicized an issue that should not be political. Climate change should be an issue where we sit around the table and talk about what's happening, talk about the impact that it will have on our homes and our prosperity and our future. ... It's highly politicized and people are so angry about it. I don't understand it. The United States is a country that can mobilize and invent and imagine and create. ... Change is going to happen whether we like it or not."

    On deciding to follow in what's essentially the family business:

    Cousteau: "I never really wondered what I was going to do with my life. ... What did you like doing with your family when you were young? Fishing? Hiking? Camping? Whatever that was for you, that's what this is for me. I just kept doing it. For me, I don't really consider it a job. It's part of who I am. These issues matter to me so much because the oceans of my childhood have disappeared. The oceans that we have today are fundamentally different than the oceans of the '70s and 80s."

    On moving toward a more sustainable future:

    Cousteau: "I don't see it as asking people to sacrifice. I see it as asking people to invest the way we invest in our retirement, we invest in our children's education, we invest in our home. Eating more sustainably or not leaving pesticides in your yards that will kill the pollinators or recycling, these aren't sacrifices. I don't think there's a lot of people who just don't care about the places where they live or the water and the land that shapes those places. Everybody cares about that. We're just seeing it differently."

    Alexandra Cousteau Receives Eco Hero Award At Planet in Focus


    Filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau speaking at Planet in Focus in Toronto

    During closing night at the Planet In Focus film festival in Toronto, the International Eco Hero Award was given to none other than filmmaker and water advocate Alexandra Cousteau.  The grandaughter of the legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau and daughter to Phillipe, Alexandra has continued her family’s legacy of exploring our beautiful oceans.  Times have definitely changed since Jacques Cousteau has first set out in the oceans and he did not nearly experience the many issues and problems that his granddaughter Alexandra has faced today when it comes to conserving our oceans.  The senior adviser for Oceania is a true advocate and documentarian exploring the relationship between climate change and the oceans as well our current behaviour and attitude towards our water systems.

    It has always been said that in order to solve some of the world’s biggest environmental problems is to think globally and act locally and you can see that Alexandra Cousteau is quietly spearheading this campaign.  Throughout the many miles she has trekked around the world, she has taken her conservation efforts through filming and exploring local water issues such as here in Toronto, Moncton, and Colorado.  Not as glamorous as her expeditions both her father and grandfather took but Alexandra Cousteau sees this as an opportunity to tell her story.  Her work in these films is to make everyone aware that there is a need to for a turning point to take place so that future generations will not be left with nothing in our oceans.  Sustainability is a great theory that will always be in question but there is a need to for many of us to be as passionate as Alexandra Cousteau about our oceans.

    As she spoke to the audience after receiving her award that night, Alexandra Cousteau explained that she had just came back from the Philippines where she continued her efforts.  This became that much more inspiring because there are not too many who would set foot in this country especially now with all the political turmoil that is going on.   To welcome a non-native person to the country to discuss her interest in sustainable fisheries reforms and  stop illegal commercial fishing in the Philippines is raising the stakes pretty high.   But you can see that Alexandra Cousteau is certainly a risk -taker and doing whatever it takes by all means necessary to protect the oceans in this country.  Cousteau certainly believes in this area that the oceans are a resource for the people of the Philippines which is why conservation is necessary.  Just like many other areas in the world, the pollution and depletion of our waters and water systems becomes an unlikely resource to everyone.  When that happens as it is occurring now, times will severely tough.

    What is unique about Alexandra Cousteau is that she has opened the door much more wider for environmental filmmakers old or new to tell their stories and to go every step of the way in doing so.  It’s great that someone like Ric O’ Barry of The Cove who at the end of his career has got many people around the world aware about what it happening to our oceans but it is individuals like Alexandra Cousteau who we all must support in the uphill and ongoing battle of the conservation of our oceans.  The more films that become available to us to remind us that everyone on this planet needs to do something, the better the chance we change our whole attitude, behaviour and practices towards the oceans.  You can hear her passion but at the same time her sadness about the treatment of our oceans but this is a testament of a person who is not telling a myth but cautionary tales.

    Premiere of L'Odyssee (Cousteau Bio Pic) in Paris


    Lors de la présentation du film L'Odyssée le 3 octobre à Paris, qui retrace le parcours du Jacques-Yves Cousteau, l'équipe du film était bien évidemment réunie autour du trio principal : Lambert Wilson incarne le légendaire commandantAudrey Tautousa femme Simone et Pierre Niney, son fils Philippe. Le réalisateur Jérôme Salle, Vincent Heneine, Chloé Hirschman, Rafaël De Ferran et Ulysse Stein étaient donc de la fête dans l'enceinte de l'UGC Normandie. Une projection qui a été applaudie par les membres de la famille Cousteau : Jan (Janice), l'épouse du défunt Philippe Cousteau, et leurs enfants Alexandra et Philippe Cousteau.

    Jan Cousteau a ouvert ses archives pour les besoins du film, livrant une belle collaboration avec le réalisateur Jérôme Salle. Le commandant a lui fondé une autre famille après son mariage avec Simone. Il a épousé Francine Triplet, qui a été hôtesse de l'air d'Air France en 1991. Avant leur mariage, le couple a eu deux enfants : Diane en 1979 et Pierre-Yves en 1981. Avec son mari, elle a écrit les commentaires de différents documentaires filmés. Après sa mort en 1997, Francine Cousteau est devenue présidente de l'association The Cousteau Society. Le film L'Odyssée ne revient pas sur l'histoire de leur couple mais se concentre sur la relation entre Cousteau et son fils Philippe (qui s'est tué en hydravion en 1979), dont la mère était Simone Melchior (ils avaient eu un premier fils ensemble, Jean-Michel). 

    L'histoire de L'Odyssée : 1948. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, sa femme et ses deux fils, vivent au paradis, dans une jolie maison surplombant la mer Méditerranée. Mais Cousteau ne rêve que d'aventure. Grâce à son invention, un scaphandre autonome qui permet de respirer sous l'eau, il a découvert un nouveau monde. Désormais, ce monde, il veut l'explorer. Et pour ça, il est prêt à tout sacrifier.

    4 Days With Alexandra Cousteau, Explorer/Wife/Mother And An Heir To A Name


    But papa, you can’t eat the fish,” exclaims five-year-old Clémentine. “That’s who we’re trying to save!”

    We’re sitting to a sumptuous seafood lunch at Pangulasian Resort in El Nido, Palawan. “Papa” is Fritz Neumeyer, Berlin-based German architect and father to Clémentine and the insanely cute, amiable 11-month-old Balthasar.

    It sounds like a regular little girl’s protest, except that, in this case, it’s coming from an infinitely more informed place.

    After all, the kids’ mama, Neumeyer’s wife, is Alexandra Cousteau, filmmaker, explorer, senior adviser to the international conservation organization Oceana, granddaughter of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and a renowned champion of the environment. And no, she doesn’t eat fish.

    In an earlier interview with Inquirer Lifestyle, Cousteau stated that, in this day and age, “Eating a tuna is like eating a tiger”—because tuna fisheries are being decimated as swiftly and dangerously as the charismatic big cat.

    “I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but I am alarmed,” notes Cousteau.

    It’s been, for her, an exhausting 10 days in early September in the Philippines, hopping from Manila to Dumaguete, Cebu, and now Palawan as guest of Oceana Philippines, giving a face to the organization’s fisheries-focused campaigns.

    Love of my grandfather's life

    We spend four days with her at El Nido, diving and talking about her work.

    Today, however, other than shooting scenes for Oceana Philippines’ public service announcements, as well as for a short film for Oceana International, Cousteau can take it slower. It’s one of the family’s rare trips together, and she and Neumeyer have been able to scuba dive together and play with the kids.

    Cousteau is tall, elegant, and extremely articulate when talking of her passion.     The accent is American; her mother Janice Sullivan was a model originally from Los Angeles when she met Philippe Cousteau, himself an explorer and constant companion of his father Jacques on explorations on board their famous boat, the Calypso—which, incidentally, came to the Philippines in 1990, along with its famous captain.

    Tragically, Philippe died at age 38 in a plane crash in 1979.

    “He was the love of my grandfather’s life,” Cousteau says. “He was never quite the same after that.”

    She was only three years old, and her mother Janice was pregnant. Cousteau’s younger brother, TV host and one-time CNN correspondent Philippe Jr., was born six months later.

    Thus, Cousteau recounts, she has lived in California, Connecticut, Spain, Costa Rica, Paris, and now Berlin, and speaks English, French and Spanish. Her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University was political science.

    “I’m not a marine biologist, and nor was my grandfather, although everyone thinks he was,” she says. “I thought political science was a very interesting, analytical degree.”

    Still, when she calls her precocious, water-loving daughter’s name with a marked French accent—“CLAY-muhn-teen!”—it’s the Cousteau romance all over again. Unless, of course, she and Neumeyer are calling her “Monkey,” and the gurgling Balthasar, simply “Fatty Pants.”


    Cousteau and Neumeyer met in Paris, and have been married five years. “Our first date was the premiere of the film ‘Oceans’ by Jacques Perrin, and he loved it,” she says with a laugh. “I thought it was a good sign.”

    Neumeyer is a self-confessed “city slicker” with a wry, self-deprecating humor. “Why are all the white people on this side of the table?” he hollers over dinner.

    He practices green architecture, mostly for private clients, having given up office life a while back to have his own time. He’s also a jock, going straight from a dive—in his wetsuit

    —to the basketball court to dribble around with the El Nido staff.

    Also, he’s so comfortable being Cousteau’s husband, he’s even starting an Instagram account called “Married to An Explorer.”

    “I’m the beneficiary of all this,” he says, stretching his arms out. “She changed me!”

    “Not every guy would be willing to be married to somebody with a name, or be Mr. Cousteau, but he’s secure enough,” Cousteau says. “I’ve been brainwashing him. He’s a very nurturing father, though. We’re 50-50 in parenting. Just because I’m the woman doesn’t mean I’m going to be 100 percent.”

    Indeed, on the flight home from El Nido, when Balthasar wails for the first time since I meet him, it’s Neumeyer who rocks the baby to sleep, father and son hiding under a blanket.

    No celebrity

    Which brings us to the family name. “Yes, there were expectations, but there were also opportunities,” Cousteau says. “It wasn’t a silver spoon, but it was an opportunity to be part of something if I wanted to be.”

    She’s not much of a celebrity, Cousteau notes: “I walk down the street and people don’t recognize me. I have a lot of privacy, and I protect and guard my privacy. But I can step into the issues with a certain amount of celebrity when I choose to, and when I think it can make a difference. I can pull that card when it can help issues. Otherwise I’m happy being a mom, and being at home working on stuff.”

    Ironic, though, that she’s getting her hands dirty in ways her grandfather never did. “Well, we have to be in the nitty-gritty, in a way we weren’t 20 years ago. When my grandfather was born, there were one billion people on earth. Now there’s seven billion, in the span of a hundred years. It’s insane. In the Philippines, it’s gone from 10 to 110 million people. And everyone wants to live like Americans! Even Americans shouldn’t be living the way they do!” she says with a hearty laugh.

    “Maybe it’s because I know too much, as I’m friends with too many scientists looking at the trends, not just tree-huggers who live in the forest,” says Cousteau of her alarm.

    “Once in a while I will have some meat, maybe once every month, if I know where it came from. It’s a moral choice because it has such an impact. Eating meat at every meal is a luxury that will damage the world,” she says.

    She walks the talk at home, as well, using nontoxic, organic personal care and home products. Her idea of relaxing is just being in nature with her children, Cousteau admits.

    “When Clémentine comes home from school and she’s all dirty from playing, I ask, ‘Did you have a good day at school?’ She says, ‘Mama, look at me. Of course I had a good day.’”

    Motherhood has certainly colored the way she now sees her mission: “My emotional investment is deeper. I am willing to invest my life so that my children’s lives are abundant.”

    She gazes at Clémentine, engrossed in a colorful book of tropical fish. “I don’t want the story of their lives to be the disappearance of all the things that we love. I want her to participate in bringing it back if she chooses to. I want her to live with the expectation that it will get better, not the dread that it will get worse.”

    Alexandra Cousteau looks out to the ocean, and I can only imagine what she sees. “I have to live with that expectation, too,” she says.

    Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/238764/4-days-with-alexandra-cousteau-motherwifeexplorer-and-an-heir-to-a-name/#ixzz4ZKAleWfN 

    Alexandra Cousteau visits Philippines to show support for sustainable fisheries reforms


    Conservation advocate Alexandra Cousteau, senior adviser to Oceana, is in town since August 29 and up to September 11 to promote awareness on sustainable fisheries management and the global fight against illegal fishing practices.

    The grandchild of renowned undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Alexandra has closely followed in her father, Philippe, and grandfather’s footsteps and has been named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for her films and advocacy on water issues.

    She has been meeting with national and local political authorities, environment officials, representatives from the academe, the youth, and most importantly, local communities who are the front-liners in the campaign to save and protect the oceans.

    Cousteau will be exploring the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, the country’s largest marine protected area, where Oceana is working to end illegal commercial fishing and ensure that artisanal fishers will benefit the most from their municipal waters. She will be diving in Moalboal in Cebu, where the year-round presence of sardine shoals is one of the top attractions in the thriving tourism industry.

    In Apo Island in Negros Oriental, she is expected to interact with community leaders, whose strong partnership with the government, private sector and civil society in protecting their rich marine resources has become a sterling model for protected areas.

    A series of talks has been lined up for Cousteau on Oceana’s global campaign, “Save the Oceans, Feed the World”, at the Silliman University in Dumaguete, and at the University of Cebu Banilad Campus in Cebu City.

    One of the highlights of her visit is a diving trip to El Nido in Palawan, which Jacques Cousteau explored in his boat ‘Calypso’ in the early 1990s. Alexandra will also be focusing on the impact of climate change and illegal fishing practices in El Nido’s coral reefs and the livelihoods of the residents.

    Explorer Cousteau’s granddaughter urges Pinoys to protect Tañon, oceans

    A National Geographic emerging explorer and the granddaughter of popular explorer and scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau yesterday called for ocean conservation especially in the Tañon Strait Protective Seascape (TSPS) in the country.

    Alexandra Cousteau, who was in Cebu City yesterday, joined the Ocean Talks forum together with government officials at the Cebu City Sports Club.

    “What brings us together today is the opportunity to restore the abundance in the oceans,” Cousteau said in her speech.

    Cousteau is the current senior advisor of Oceana. She joined the international nongovernment organization in 2011 to help the advocacy through expeditions.

    “Philippines belongs to the Filipino people. You are the center of the biodiversity in this planet,” she added.

    For her, what is important is the opportunity to restore the ocean and it is meaningful.

    “Conservation is not just sacrifice. This is not just about the whales, dolphins and turtles but to restore these resources for people,” Cousteau said.

    Conservation is also an opportunity to make better for everyone.

    Despite TSPS being protected, Cousteau said this needs enforcement of the law.

    “This needs more boats, more people along the Tañon Strait,” she added.

    In 1988, former president Fidel Ramos issued Presidential Decree 1234 that proclaimed the Tañon Strait as a protected area where commercial fishing is prohibited. It is an important migration corridor that is 161 km long where 14 species of sea mammals, 18,830 ha. of coral reefs and 5,000 ha of mangrove areas with 26 known mangrove species are found.

    Cousteau will be staying in the country for 12 days. Aside from Cebu, she also went to Apo Island in Negros Oriental. She will also leave today for Palawan.

    Baltazar Tribunalo, head of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRMMO); Elias Fernandez Jr., Department of Interior and Local Government-Central Visayas (DILG-7) assistant regional director; and Alan Poquita, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR-7) assistant regional director were among the government officials who attended the Ocean Talk forum.

    “Let us work together in terms of laws and enforcement. Let us help the lives of the fishermen,” said Tribunalo, who represented Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and assured of the governor’s support in protecting the ocean.

    Fernandez and Poquita also promised to support Costeau’s advocacy to protect the ocean.
    “We will not abandon (Tañon Strait) and will collectively work with other government agencies for this advocacy,” said Poquita.